Study Guide

The Narrator in The Purloined Letter

By Edgar Allan Poe

The Narrator

The narrator is Dupin's friend and roommate. Like Dupin and G—, the narrator is in all three of the Dupin tales. We're just going to say it: he seems really unimportant. He hardly says anything; he never appears to leave the library; and he doesn't even act as a Watson-type-sounding board for Dupin.

But you could still think of him as the story's most important character. He's not only telling the story; he's shaping it, and he's shaping it with a clear bias toward Dupin. (Check out "Narrator Point-of-View" for more about that.)

More important, all his information is second- and third-hand. Other than a brief glimpse of the letter, the narrator sees nothing for himself. But he sure does hear a lot. Not that he shares everything he hears, though. He never describes the letter; he never explains what the letter contains; and he never spills the exact identities of the people involved (although presumably he knows). But do these omissions make him more trustworthy—or less?